Probe into alleged Microsoft partner bribery hits Russia

The investigators are also determining whether any possible bribery occurred in Pakistan.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Microsoft business partners in Russia and Pakistan are now being investigated by the US, a new report claims.

US investigators within the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are reportedly investigating Microsoft's relationships with representatives and resellers who allegedly bribed foreign officials in return for lucrative contracts. It was previously believed that the US was solely investigating Microsoft's partners in Italy, China, and Romania. However, that investigation has extended to Russia and Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the investigation.

News of the possible investigation was made public in March, when the Journal cited sources who said the US was investigating an alleged bribery scheme involving Microsoft and its business partners in a few countries around the world. At that time, Microsoft didn't acknowledge the inquiry, but said that it takes all allegations "seriously."

Here's what John Frank, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, said at that time:

Like other large companies with operations around the world we sometimes receive allegations about potential misconduct by employees or business partners and we investigate them fully regardless of the source. We also invest heavily in proactive training, monitoring and audits to ensure our business operations around the world meet the highest legal and ethical standards.

According to the Journal's sources, Microsoft's resellers in Russia allegedly offered kickbacks to executives who bought its software. Another source claims that Microsoft allowed a consulting firm to pay for a government official's trip with his wife to strike a deal.

Frank gave the same, aforementioned statement to the Journal on Wednesday; he did not mention at any time the reported investigation.

For its part, the US government has been quiet on any possible investigation, and it has not accused Microsoft of any of the allegations that unidentified Journal sources are making. Realizing that, it's important to take all allegations with a hefty heaping of salt.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.